It has taken us a long time (7000 years) to understand how Nature’s ecosystem works and its importance to the well-being and survival of life on Earth. The ecosystem starts with the living things (plants and bacteria) that can grow and reproduce relying only on the abundant inorganic matters and Sun’s energy. In term, insects and some animals can grow and reproduce relying on the plants and bacteria and in the same time, their growths are kept in check. At the top of the food chain, there are the top predatory animals that can grow and reproduce relying on the insects and plant-eating animals and in the same time, their growths are kept in check.
In times, an equilibrium occurs among the plants, plant eaters, and meat eaters. As the environmental conditions change, the population and species in each group change for better adaptation. Out of this simple yet complex ecosystem emerges the human species that not only are on the top of the food chain
but also have the capabilities to disrupt and destroy this ecosystem:
1) Huge land areas are cleared out to grow crops and to farm domestic animals. Insecticides are used to kill off harmful as well as beneficial bugs,
2) Wild animals are hunted to extinction for their oil (whale), hide (otter, bear, bison), game (tiger, rhino, elephant), etc.,
3) Coals and fossil fuels are burned for energy while creating air pollution, global warming, and climate change,
4) The factory and chemical plants that produce all the mechanical contractions, plastics, and insecticides, create toxic wastes and garbage that contaminate the land, river, and ocean.
Our indulge in material comforts and desire for a better life have unknowingly caused the extinction of countless living species and irreparable damages to the landscape and habitats. But, with increasing awareness of the degradation of our quality of life, instead of looking at blue sky, green trees, and blooming flowers, we are facing with smoggy air, concrete sidewalks, and garbage in the streets. With deeper understanding of how Nature works,
1) We realize that every living thing on Earth has gone through thousands or even millions years of adaptation to earn its existence,
2) We have uncovered theories, laws, and equations that can explain how and why things happen the ways they do.
Unlike any other living things on Earth, we are born with the power to aware, to understand, and to change how things have been for the better or worst. Like any other livings on Earth, we are all at the mercy of Nature’s invisible laws that govern life and death; how, what, and why things can be:
1) We can prolong life but not prevent death,
2) We can rearrange chromosomes and alter genes to give living things new looks and capabilities but cannot create new life without using DNAs,
3) We can create new materials – steel, aluminum, plastics, gasoline, medicine, etc. – but only using the chemical elements from the Periodic Table,
4) We can drive a car, fly an airplane, and go to the Moon only by following the physical laws discovered by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, etc.
Power to Destroy
We are giver the power to destroy Nature’s ecosystem, we are also given the power to understand the consequences of that actions. As a result:
1) We have stopped the indiscriminate deforestation. We replant the areas where trees were cut down. Before a big lumber operation, we try to learn the impact to environment and the living species that rely on them as habitat,
2) We have established a list of endangered species so that we can pay special attention to ensure their continued survival,
3) We are converting to renewable energy to cut down on carbon emission that is the primary cause of the global warming,
4) We regulate toxic waste disposal and emission by industries to prevent contamination on land, river, and ocean.
No doubt, we have caused irreparable damage to Nature’s ecosystem but we have also created a man-made ecosystem to ensure our survival. We no longer have to rely on the wild animals for food and be scared helplessly by earthquake, hurricane, and other natural disasters. Instead, we rely on:
1) Doctor to cure all our physical ills,
2) Farmer to grow our food,
3) Policeman to protect us from predator,
4) Scientist to explain how Nature works,
5) Engineer to come up with technologies to improve our living standard, etc.
Quality of Life
Under Nature’s old ecosystem, each living thing just exists day to day; there is no quality of life. Under Nature’s new ecosystem, each person can pursue material comforts (gourmet food, environmentally controlled dwelling, vacation, entertainment) and find ways to satisfy one’s spiritual urges (friend, love, music, literature). For the first time, life on Earth has purpose and meaning beside survival of the fittest. Ever since the emergence of the human species, us, life on Earth has entered a new developmental stage where we are endowed with the power to learn, understand, destroy, and create all under Nature’s invisible guiding hand. Where will it lead to is not what we can choose but at the mercy of the Nature’s ecosystem as it has always been.